The National Park Service announced it entered into an agreement with Tennessee that will allow Great Smoky Mountains National Park to re-open and temporarily operate during the government shutdown.
Due to the lack of appropriations from Congress, the Department of the Interior was forced to close all national parks across the country last week and furlough more than 20,000 National Park Service employees who ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the resources.
Responding to the economic impacts that the park closures are having on many communities and local businesses, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced last Thursday she will consider agreements with governors who indicate an interest and ability to fully fund National Park Service personnel to re-open national parks in their states.
“This is a practical and temporary solution that will lessen the pain for some businesses and communities in Tennessee during this shutdown,” said Jewell. “We want to re-open all of our national parks as quickly possible for everyone to enjoy and call on Congress to pass a clean continuing resolution to open the government.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Tennessee will donate funds to the National Park Service for the sole purpose of enabling National Park Service employees to re-open and manage Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The agreement funds the park for a period of five days, running from Wednesday through Sunday at the donated amount of $304,440.